GPS Welcomes Interim Head of School

Dr. Kirk Walker to lead for the 2020-21 school year
Dr. R. Kirk Walker Jr., retired headmaster of McCallie School, former GPS trustee, and past GPS parent, will serve as interim head of Girls Preparatory School for the 2020-21 school year. 

With 33 years of school administrative experience, Walker’s nameplate has graced the headmaster’s door at several schools, including Bright School and McCallie School in Chattanooga, from which he retired, and Ensworth School in Nashville. He served as president/executive director of the Southern Association of Independent Schools until 2019 and is currently the mayor of his community, Ridgeside.

In addition to his professional experiences in independent schools, Walker also serves as a SAIS Trustee, Southern Lit Alliance Trustee, a 30-year Trustee and Sustaining Trustee for Chambliss Center for Children, and President of The Worth Foundation (2013-present), which reviews and awards grants to community-based youth development programs.

Walker received a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead Scholar and member of Phi Beta Kappa. He then earned an M.S. and Ph.D. from George Peabody College, Vanderbilt University (Nashville). 

Familiar with GPS and with a firm belief in the school’s mission and the power of an all-girls education, Walker says his transition to leading an all-girls school began with a trip to a local bookstore and buying every book they had on raising girls. “GPS is blessed with a great faculty and a strong leadership team who know how to inspire and encourage young women,” he says.

“I am excited and honored to be part of a school community for which I have so much admiration. Both through observing my daughter’s experience as a student at GPS and through my work with the school while at McCallie and Bright, I have appreciated the breadth and quality of the program.”

His goals for the 2020-21 school year are the same as they would be for any interim head: to advance the vision of the school and to pave a smooth path for the next leader. Together with the faculty, staff, and Board of Trustees, he is navigating the changes and workarounds for issues caused by COVID-19, a situation not present when he accepted the role.

As for the pandemic, he says, “The year ahead will have unique challenges for the nation and for all our schools, but I am hopeful that it will also be an opportunity for rediscovering the values that matter and for clearer understanding of our interdependence on each other.”

“We expect our interim year under Dr. Walker’s leadership to be one of continued progress in the important work of preparing girls for the 21st century guided by our strategic plan,” says Dr. Rebecca Stimson ’73, Chair of the GPS Board of Trustees.